Reviews for The Witch Boy

by Ostertag, Molly

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Aster has been secretly studying spells while pressure builds for him to conform to the norms of his magical community--in which boys are shapeshifters and girls are witches. Aster and non-magic friend Charlotte (Charlie) save his clan and persuade the community to rethink its adherence to gender roles. This graphic novel's clear panel outlines, subdued hues, and balanced layouts allow for steady pacing. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Witch Boy explores what it means to go against expectations and overcome gendered prejudice, in this case related to magic and witchcraft. In her middle-grade graphic-novel debut, Ostertag perhaps best known for Shattered Warrior (2017) and her ongoing webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist uses bold colors and diverse skin tones to beautifully illustrate a brief time in the life of Aster, a young man who is supposed to be a shape-shifter but is instead more inclined toward witchcraft. Unfortunately, witchcraft is seen as feminine in his community, and therefore not something boys are meant to dabble in. When several other boys go missing over the next few days, Aster and his community become alarmed, unsure of who or what is to blame. In an effort to help his family and friends and prove himself to his mother and father, Aster begins testing his magical abilities, much to their chagrin. Aster's journey of self-discovery, particularly as he learns to take a stand against assumed gender roles, will resonate with many young readers working to assert themselves within their own communities.--Bittner, Rob Copyright 2017 Booklist

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-7-Aster belongs to a magical family, but he is having problems with one of the most basic rules: shapeshifting is for boys, while witchcraft is for girls. Aster is fascinated by the spells that the girls are learning, so he spies on their lessons whenever he can. When several boys disappear during shapeshifting practice, Aster realizes that he can help save them using witchcraft to battle a strange and powerful enemy-but he'll have to break his family's traditions and risk his life. Both the plot and the overall message are straightforward and familiar but engaging. Beneath the fantastical elements lies a story about upending gender expectations, forging identity, and uncovering heroic potential in oneself. Those who enjoy sci-fi or fantasy stories about protagonists who must prove that their society's rules are flawed will appreciate this offering. Ostertag's bright, gentle, cartoonlike artwork brims with life and adds extra appeal to this fast-moving story. VERDICT An excellent choice for reluctant readers, fans of fantasy, and those looking for books that explore gender roles.-Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Magic fans will welcome Ostertag's graphic novel about a modern-day forest settlement where girls become witches and boys learn how to be shapeshifters. Aster's a boy who should be focusing on transforming into an animal; instead, to his family's dismay and embarrassment, he finds ways to hang around when girls are learning witchcraft. Technical spell-casting details abound: "The containment rune would work for a while, but with the name of its subject, it will be much more powerful." With the help of new friend Charlie, a human girl with beaded braids and a serious leg injury, Aster is able to deploy witch knowledge to save two of the settlement's boys and uncover the truth behind his family's darkest secret. Ostertag is in full control of plotting, dialogue, and visual techniques to advance the story with her sturdy panel artwork, and her family-centered narrative is warm and wholesome. Only the predictability of Aster's dilemma-a template from other gender-difference stories dropped into a new setting-disappoints, though his family's eventual acceptance is still satisfying when it arrives. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.